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When will we see LIV and PGA Tour players outside the majors? At least not for a year

Scottie Scheffler and Jon Rahm are two of the best golfers in the world, but outside of the majors, they won’t be playing against each other for at least a year. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

AUGUSTA, Ga. – LIV golfers didn’t have the same impact at this year’s Masters as they did in 2023, when they claimed three of the top six spots and also claimed champion Jon Rahm later in the year. But their performance this year – three top-10 finishes – was strong enough to reinforce golf’s perennial demand:

When are we going to see all these guys play more than four times a year?

The answer: probably not for at least a year.

Thirteen LIV players participated in the Masters this year via exemption, world ranking and – in the case of Joaquin Niemann – special invitation. Many have also already qualified for next month’s PGA Championship, including former winners Brooks Koepka and Phil Mickelson, and recent winners of other majors such as Rahm and Cam Smith. However, in addition to the majors, a further 48 weeks of non-union golf are planned.

To reset the scene, professional men’s golf is as fragmented as it’s ever been. Dozens of players have left the PGA Tour for the rival LIV Golf tour, funded by the Saudi Arabian Public Investment Fund. Although the PGA Tour and the PIF have reached a ‘framework agreement’ to develop a new structure for professional golf, all that has done so far is halt the lawsuits between the two. (Not an unimportant matter, that’s true, but not enough to bridge the gap between the two organizations.)

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The two entities passed the self-imposed deadline of December 31, as well as the rumored get-it-done-by-Augusta deadline. Both parties have taken steps that appear to undermine the collaborative nature of a ‘framework agreement’: LIV poaching Rahm, the PGA Tour looking for alternative outside investments.

There was no discussion of the status of negotiations at the Masters. Tiger Woods, one of the player representatives on the PGA Tour, helped organize a meeting with PIF Governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan last month, and was asked only one question about whether the meeting led to anything productive.

“I don’t know if we’re any closer, but we’re definitely going in the right direction,” Woods said Sunday. “That was a very positive meeting, and I think both parties left the meeting with a positive feeling.”

Beyond the obvious ongoing negotiations — as well as some palpable bad feelings between certain LIV and PGA Tour players — there’s another potential obstacle to an easy reunion: the PGA Tour’s own rules for suspensions.

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Although the PGA Tour does not discuss disciplinary matters, the Tour does have a number of specific rules that govern the status of players who choose to play in unauthorized events, such as LIV golf tournaments.

“Regardless of membership status,” the Tour said in a statement to Yahoo Sports, “any player participating in an unauthorized event is prohibited from participating in PGA Tour affiliated events for a period of one year from the end of the unauthorized event.”

That means every time a player competes in an LIV event, their one-year ban starts over from scratch. Considering that LIV’s last event ended last Sunday, the earliest date LIV golfers can return to the PGA Tour would be April 8, 2025. LIV golfers who participate in the full season will not be eligible for PGA Tour reinstatement until at least August 19. 2025, the date of the last currently scheduled LIV tournament – ​​that would be after next year’s very big list.

Granted, the PGA Tour could revise the suspension rules if it so chooses; these are of course the Tour’s own rules. But there’s still so much to do before then – perhaps starting with informing everyone what their exact status is with the Tour.

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When asked by Yahoo Sports if he was suspended from the Tour, Bryson DeChambeau shrugged. “I don’t know,” he said. ‘They didn’t tell me. There has been no communication.”

However, DeChambeau has a few ideas about how the sport could come back together. Asked to describe his vision of golf in five years, he offered two scenarios.

“First of all, you can think of it like the NFL, and you could have NFC/AFC working on their own turf and at the end they come together and have a big event at the end of the year,” he said. “That could be really cool.”

The other option would be to integrate the team aspect of LIV on top of the individual aspect of the game. “The Signature Series or some elevated events,” he said, “we take those events to the next level. We’re not just trying to say: it is an individual event or this is a team event. No, combine it, make it one, and you can significantly increase the value.”

The desire for a reunited golf world is widespread, from players to legends. “The best players play against each other,” Jack Nicklaus said Thursday. “The bottom line is: That’s what we want in professional golf, and right now we don’t have it.”

And we may not be talking about a year from now either.

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